MUSIC / Worth the wait: Robert Maycock reviews Black Swan Theatre and Opera Company's Dido and Aeneas
Monday 27 December 1993
But then ask yourself this: why do you always have to wait for the next Carmen Jones or Porgy to hear most of those singers again? Certainly, nobody in the Black Swan Theatre and Opera Company misses the point. They have given their own time to set everything up without funding, and if they could have put on more than one show, they might not have disappointed the many people the Tricycle Theatre had to turn away last week. They just about did justice to Purcell's Dido and Aeneas on inadequate rehearsal, and they will do it better as soon as they have the chance.
Promised as a semi-staging, the performance was nearer three-quarters. There wasn't much subtlety about the movement, but at least the directors, Joseph Charles and Olusola Oyeleye, managed to make their cast manoeuvre around the tiny stage without major accidents. The small accompanying instrumental group, which did have its struggles, played to one side. There were some African dance episodes, brilliantly coloured African costumes and bouts of drumming before and after the performance - that were reminders of the opera's setting as much as the company's purpose.
Singing was another matter. A firm, forthright ensemble spun off several fine solos: Dido's final lament was sung by Annabelle Williams with unforced but concentrated finesse, Keel Watson was a resonant and electrifying Spirit, Llewellyn Rayappen gave Aeneas some wayward tone and consistent intensity. When the company works on a fully professional basis the strengths will be more balanced, but nobody needed excusing.
For all the lack of polish, this was a performance with a spirit and character of its own, and the atmosphere in the house was certainly alive from the start.
The cast will need to hold on to that spirit as it faces up to some very British obstacles. If people have outstanding abilities they will be heard - thus runs the usual argument for doing nothing about their situation. As in all professional fields, however, the people involved feel they have to be twice as outstanding as other people before that hearing will come about, so long as they wait to be given it.
Black Swan is under black control, and it can present singers when they are ready, not 10 years later. If it means being able to hear Keel Watson on a central stage as well as in Wandsworth Prison's Guys and Dolls or the Baylis Programme's Falstaff, I for one won't complain.
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Michelle Rodriguez: Fast & Furious actor apologises after telling 'minorities' to stop taking on 'white' roles
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face the death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Robert Mugabe eats a zoo for 'obscene' 91st birthday party
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
EastEnders may bring transgender character to Albert Square to challenge 'traditional' viewers
Eurovision 2015: Finnish punk band with learning disabilities applies to raise awareness
Drake matches The Beatles' record with 14 singles in top 100 chart at the same time
James Bond: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming 007 film Spectre
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'